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Posts Tagged ‘vocabulary’

Six oranges, check. Five tomatoes, check. One locally grown child, check.

Last week, I went to a supermarket called Maxi.

At Maxi, you have to put une piasse (1 $) into a device on le panier (shopping cart) to release it from the other ones. The panier only accepts one-dollar coins.

When I had finished shopping and returned my panier, two women approached me. One of them asked if she could take my piasse in exchange for four quarters so that she could take a panier.

She asked:

Est-ce que je peux prendre ta piasse pour quatre vingt-cinq sous?
Can I take your loonie [one-dollar coin] for four quarters?

At Maxi, there’s a large sign posted at the spot where customers return their paniers in the parking lot, le stationnement.

I took a photo of the sign so that you could see it and learn French vocabulary from it.

Some of the vocabulary on the sign includes: dépôt, se procurer un panier, retourner le panier, magasiner, passer à la caisse, déverrouiller un panier, monnaie, jeton réutilisable.

The word panier doesn’t just refer to shopping carts with wheels, though.

I found another sign that uses the word panier on it at the entrance to a store called Dollarama.

On this sign, shoppers are told to use a panier (basket) when shopping in the store, and not one of their own sacs réutilisables, reusable bags.

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Full québécois panties!

Congratulations to Danny from Boston who won a copy of the film La grande séduction on DVD!

Wow, you guys are great. The sentences you submitted to participate in the contest are all full québécois!

Here’s a selection of the sentences you submitted, with some minor changes. I’ve also shortened a few sentences for simplicity. Enjoy!

1. Toute la gang est allée chercher de quoi manger au dépanneur. [Jennifer]
The whole gang went to get something to eat at the dépanneur.

2. Mets ta tuque, y fait frette! [Jennifer]
Put your hat on, it’s cold out!

3. Je vais prendre le char et aller magasiner cet après-midi. [Jennifer]
I’m going to take the car and go shopping this afternoon.

4. J’vas te donner une claque si t’arrêtes pas de brailler. [Armand]
I’m gonna give you a slap if you don’t stop crying.

5. Mon crisse de chien jappe sans cesse. [Armand]
My goddamn dog keeps on barking.

6. Sors les vidanges, ça sent le diable! [Ilona]
Take out the garbage, it reeks!

7. T’as-tu eu du fun hier soir? [Ilona]
Did you have fun last night?

8. J’ai écouté un bon film la semaine dernière. [Ilona]
I watched a good movie last week.

9. J’ai fait un peu de magasinage en ligne. [Ilona]
I did some online shopping.

10. Je veux pas péter ta balloune, mais c’est pas mal illégal. [Danny de Boston]
I don’t wanna burst your bubble, but it’s pretty illegal.

11. Chu tellement poche en mathématiques. [Danny de Boston]
I really suck at mathematics.

12. Tabarnak, un autre avantage numérique pour les Bruins! [Janet]
Fuck, another powerplay for the Bruins!

13. T’as-tu passé une bonne fête hier? [Janet]
Did you have a good birthday [or other celebration] yesterday?

14. Mon chum et moi, on s’en va au dépanneur. [Janet]
Me and my boyfriend are going to the dépanneur.

15. Ch’peux-tu ouvrir la télé? [Edgardo]
Can I turn the TV on?

16. T’es ben niaiseux, boludo! [Edgardo]
You’re so stupid, boludo!

Edgardo is a diehard fan of Québécois French from Argentina, where boludo is typically associated with the variety of castellano that he speaks. I’ll let you discover the meaning of boludo on his blog!

17. Ce concours est le fun au boutte! [César]
This contest is fun to the max!

18. Enweille Félix, t’es capable! [César]
Come on Félix, you can do it!

19. Le film que j’ai vu hier, c’était full poche! [César]
The movie I saw yesterday sucked big time!

20. La salle était bondée, y avait full de monde! [David]
The room was full, it was jam-packed with people!

21. Dernièrement, je trippe ben raide sur cette toune-là. [David]
Lately, I’ve been totally crazy about that song.

22. Y’est-tu fin le chum à Marie? [David]
Is Marie’s boyfriend nice?

23. Sérieusement, la politique? J’m’en câlisse comme de l’an 40. [David]
Seriously, politics? I don’t give a flying fuck.

24. Coudon, t’es ben ben magané! [Dejah]
Jeez, you’re in really really rough shape!

25. Toi pis moi, on va ben ensemble. [Dejah]
You and me, we make a good pair.

26. Mes enfants font trop de bruit à matin, j’ai mon voyage! [Dejah]
My kids are making too much noise this morning, I’ve had it!

27. OK, c’est-tu assez? [Robert]
OK, is that enough?

28. Ça donne un méchant buzz! [Robert]
This’ll give you a huge buzz!

29. Peux-tu me donner un lift? Mon char est magané. [Sina]
Can you give me a lift? My car’s all beat up.

30. Wô minute, là! Tu me niaises? [Sina]
Hold on a minute there! Are you kidding me?

Thanks for participating everybody. You’re the reason I love working on OffQc so much. 🙂

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If you lack the courage to speak in French, it’s not because your accent is wonky.

It’s not because your grammar is off.

It’s not because you’re short on vocabulary.

When you’re at home speaking in French to the cat, none of these things hold you back.

If you lack the courage to speak in French, it’s because you worry about how other people will react to your French.

You’re worrying about things you can’t control.

Worrying about things you can’t control is stupid.

This is where an “oh well, whatever” attitude helps.

He didn’t understand me.
Oh well, whatever.

She switched to English on me.
Oh well, whatever.

I forgot how to say it.
Oh well, whatever!

You can fix what needs fixing later.

The “oh well, whatever” attitude works after you speak. Before you speak, you need to silence the thoughts in your head.

Your thoughts are screaming: “Oh my God. My accent is so bad. I can’t speak. I just can’t do it.”

You can’t control other people’s behaviour, but you can control your own.

Now is not the time to be a sissy.

You need to take that inner voice and slap some sense into it.

“Hey there, Inner Voice. You’re right. My accent isn’t so hot. But someday it will be. Oh, and by the way bitch, fuck you.”

Now speak, dammit.

If you lack the courage to speak in French, your priority right now shouldn’t be to learn more French.

It can wait.

Close your books.

Stop studying.

I don’t mean that learning French isn’t important.

What I mean is that worrying about other people’s reactions to your French is the best way to prevent yourself from feeling at home in it.

Make adopting a new mindset your priority instead.

If what you really want is to make French yours, this can’t wait.

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“Help! I think I speak pretty good French, but I still have so much trouble understanding what people are saying!”

If that describes you, know that you’re not alone. Improving your listening skills takes time — a lot of it. If you’re struggling to understand spoken French, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a gift for languages. We all have to work on it. It just means that you need to revise what you’re doing to avoid fumbling along without making progress.

Seeing improvement in your listening skills is a lot like losing weight (or gaining it). You only see the changes in hindsight after a long period has passed. You don’t see the changes on a day-to-day basis. If you start following some or all of the suggestions below, you can be sure that your listening skills will improve.

By the way, I’m not going to include “speak with francophones” in this list. That one’s so obvious that you already knew you should be doing it.

1. Speak with francophones

OK, I lied. Speak with francophones! There can be no better listening practice than speaking with francophones. Start with just one francophone. One-on-one conversations will reform your French in ways that you can’t even imagine if you’re not doing this yet. In one-on-one conversations, you have to listen to what your friend is saying for the conversation to continue.

Please don’t be one of those people who thinks that they need to improve their French just a little more before speaking. That’s missing the whole point of learning French. Nobody cares about your perfect or imperfect French, people care about you.

The francophone you find doesn’t even need to be québécois. Just find a francophone and start building a relationship.

If you are in fact already speaking with francophones very regularly but still feel like you’re struggling to understand spoken French — relax. You’re doing everything right. Your listening skills are improving, even if you don’t see it right now. Keep doing what you’re doing.

2. Familiarise yourself with more vocabulary

Yes, become familiar with the vocabulary specific to Quebec French, but please don’t neglect French vocabulary in general. Sometimes I see certain learners get so hung up with wanting to learn all the typical québécois words (nothing wrong with that) that they forget to learn even the most basic and important vocabulary common to all francophones (that’s a problem).

Become familiar with vocab however it is that you like to do it. You like word lists? Go nuts. Flash cards? Flash away. Read the newspaper? Browse the dictionary? Do it. Just do something that you enjoy and that you’ll be inclined to do often enough.

The point of this isn’t to study vocabulary. Really, I don’t think that you’ll learn vocabulary by studying it. The point of this is to make an initial contact with lots of vocabulary on your own so that when you’re doing the more important work of speaking with francophones or listening to French, you’ll hear that vocab again and have a better chance of understanding what you hear. And that’s when you’ll learn the vocab for real.

3. Listen to the radio

I know of learners who have made incredible progress in French after listening to the radio. I’ve recommended it numerous times on OffQc: 98,5 fm. It’s all-talk radio on weekdays, which means that it’s very dense with spoken French. You can listen to it live on the radio in Montréal, or listen online from anywhere.

Again, if I’ve insisted so much on 98,5 fm, it’s because I’ve seen the success that other learners have had with it with my own eyes (or ears). If this station isn’t for you, no problem, there are others to choose from. Pick something you like and listen to it. But really listen to it. Don’t just keep noise on in the background for the sake of it — pay attention to what you’re hearing.

4. Watch television series

OffQc is full of examples from québécois television series. This isn’t an accident! I’ve chosen the language examples that you’ve discovered on OffQc because they’re pertinent to everyday language situations. Three television series that I’ve quoted from extensively on OffQc are Les Parent, 19-2 and La Galère.

These three certainly aren’t the only québécois series that prove useful, but I’ve consistently gone back to them time and time again because of their pertinence, quality and entertainment appeal. You can watch films too, but the advantage to picking series is that they have many episodes and are produced in several seasons’ worth.

The most important consideration, of course, is to watch something that interests you. There’s not much point forcing yourself to sit through something that you feel is dead boring. You’re not going to become hooked enough to want to continue. Keep looking for something that you fall in love with, then listen, listen, listen.

Don’t just watch an episode once and be done with it. Watch it the first time to enjoy it. Watch it a second time to become even more familiar with it. Listen a third time, and then a fourth. You get the idea. The more you listen to it, the more that language is going to worm its way into your head and the better you’ll become at listening.

5. Every single day, baby

As a bare minimum, spend one to two hours a day of listening to French or taking part in French conversation. If you want to pick up steam in French though, I say increase it to the highest amount that you can manage, without driving yourself crazy. There is time for it. (No, you don’t need to spend quite so much time on Facebook.)

I don’t want to be a downer, but if the number of hours you spend per month listening to French and taking part in conversation can be counted on the fingers of one hand, you’re not doing enough. This is why you feel like you’re struggling to understand.

The number of hours should be more like the number of fingers on both your hands and all the toes on your feet. And then add to that all the fingers on my hands and all the toes on my feet. (OK, maybe not my feet because I’m missing some toes. Somebody else’s feet.) And then multiply that by three. Or four…

Increase the hours dramatically and you can be sure that your listening comprehension will improve. There’s nothing magical about it, honest.

Enjoy your journey!

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